I think the Ethnomedical approach will be helpful to use and to understand because it tries to understand illness in addition to offering ways to seek treatment. I think the importance of understanding illness is to be able to alleviate the symptoms. And the Ethnomedical approach looks at explanatory models of health to understand the illness, health seeking behaviors to determine the best way to dispense the treatment and it compares health systems so the best treatment can be administered.
Disease is a physiological abnormality whereas illness is a persons experiences and feelings, shaped by their social and cultural environments, towards the pathological changes in their body. Disease is biological and illness is cultural. I thought an illness was another word for disease, a state of being unhealthy, however, the distinction was obvious to me after the lecture and the example of illness without disease and disease without illness was given.
The culture Miner is talking about in “Body Ritual Among the Nacirema” is the North American people. The first thing that about this “tribe” that led me to believe it was Americans was “they are a North American group living in the territory between the Canadian Cree, the Yaqui and Tarahumare of Mexico.” Additionally, “their nation was originated by a culture hero, Notgnishaw, who is otherwise known for […] chopping down of a cherry tree” is the second piece of information that made me believe the “Nacirema” was in fact about the American culture. In popular American culture there is a famous story about the first president of the United States of America, George Washington, who cut down a cherry tree.” After realizing “Notgnishaw” was “Washington spelled backwards and I reread the title I recognized that “Nacirema” was “American” spelled backward.
The fundamental belief of the Nacirema is that the human body is ugly and they are a society that isn’t receptive towards the unbeautiful. Having a thin body is regarded as the essence of beauty and is valued in this culture. This is supplemented by the ritual fasts to make fat people thin as described in the Nacirema article. People who don’t fit this very thin archetype feel pressured to alter their behavior to reach this ideal body image by lessening their consumption of food to reach this ideal.
Another ritual is the ritual of the mouth or the Nacirema brushing their teeth. The Nacirema believe the mouth “to have a supernatural influence on all social relationships”. The Nacirema believe that without this ritual they will begin to experience oral health problems such as teeth loss and bleeding gums. Additionally, the ideology that without this mouth-rite friends desert you and lovers reject you suggests that the Nacirema highly value appearance of others.